The question is: what can we do to raise the level of awareness for all forms of Dementia, that would also include Alzheimer's?
Can we, as Americans and U.S. policymakers, do what the World Health Organization and others in the global health community do? Refer more broadly and inclusively to the issues of Dementia that include: Alzheimer's; Vascular; Mixed; Lewy body; Frontotemporal; Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE); Traumatic Brain Injury; Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome; Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease; HIV-AIDS, and others, rather than narrow-casting most all of our words, government plans, and efforts mainly just around Alzheimer's?
When we do, those living with Alzheimer's disease (AD) will benefit as will the huge number of people that have Dementia, but not necessarily AD. Because it's better to do so, policymakers talk about cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other major pressing health worries mainly in the broadest terms, but when it comes to Dementia... most only know of AD, and often don't understand how Dementia and AD relate to one another. If AD alone is considered the 6th leading cause of death in America, just imagine what happens when you nearly double the numbers to include all forms of Dementia... its place in American health priorities will rise even faster.
Dementia is an epidemic both nationally and globally. By seeking to be more inclusive, rather than less inclusive, we shine a brighter light on millions of more cases of Dementia, as well as the needs of those living with it, their care partners, and the greater costs for families. When it comes to funding research as well as creating better person-centered care plans for insurers to cover and consider (including Medicare and Medicaid)... when we speak more openly of the larger numbers affected... it puts an additional premium on the rewards for finding medical cures and supporting non-medical innovations to deal with all forms of Dementia.
Whether you're a dyed-in-the-wool-blue supporter, a red supporter, or somewhere else on the political continuum, please take the time to Know Dementia and "see more purple." Actively demand of your civil servants that all forms of Dementia take the larger stage together for the purposes of research, concern, and care.
- Kevin Jameson, DrHC,
President of the Dementia Society of America
This post is the result of a meeting and subsequent Q&A held during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, PA on Monday, July 25th, 2016. At approximately the 1 hour mark into this forum, the Dementia Society of America was honored to have the opportunity to ask a question of Teresa Osborne, Secretary of the PA Dept of Aging, as well as Carol Lippa, Prof. of Neurology at Drexel Univ. (panel moderated by Steve Clemons, Wash. Editor at Large of The Atlantic). Click here to see the video of the entire session.